Los Angeles: A US federal court swept away bans on same-sex marriage in five more US states, bringing the number where gay weddings are permissible, or soon will be, to 35.
In the second piece of good news for same-sex marriage supporters in two days, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal yesterday handed down rulings covering Nevada and Idaho, but its findings also cover Alaska, Arizona and Montana.
"Intentional discrimination on the basis of gender by state actors violates the Equal Protection Clause," the ruling read.
"Idaho and Nevada's same-sex marriage proscriptions are sex based, and these bans do serve to preserve 'invidious, archaic, and overbroad stereotypes' concerning gender roles," it noted.
"The bans therefore must fail as impermissible gender discrimination," added the ruling, by a three-judge panel.
Same-sex marriage campaigners welcomed the move, which they said meant 64 percent of Americans now live in states where gay couples can marry or will soon be able to.
"We hope that the other federal appellate courts will move swiftly to end the disparity and unfair denial that too many loving and committed couples in the 15 remaining states endure," said Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry.
The latest ruling came a day after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider -- for now -- a nationwide ruling on the divisive issue.
In a surprise move, the top US court snubbed appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin where state-level bans on gay marriage had been deemed unconstitutional.
Marriages in those five states had been on hold pending the court's decision on whether to hear the cases. Campaigners said the ruling meant that same-sex couples in the five states will soon be able to legally marry.
Nineteen US states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality, after the Supreme Court last year ruled that under federal law, wedded same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexual ones.